Chagos exiles ‘cannot return’

| 22/10/2008

(BBC): Exiles of the Chagos Islands will not be able to return to their homeland, the House of Lords has ruled. The government won its appeal against a previous court decision that had ruled in favour of 2,000 former residents of the British Indian Ocean territory. They were evicted in the 1960s when the colony was leased to the US to build an airbase on the atoll of Diego Garcia. Go to article

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of the judgment of the House of Lords or what happened 27 years ago. The fact remains that the UK did not treat them right at that time. It was/is very arrogant of the US and UK to be treating the islanders in this mannor. It is disingenuous for the USA & the UK to demand human rights in other countries but to carry out these actions.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Re "it was at the height of the cold war".. ah, ok, so that makes it ok then….. just as 9/11 made it ok for the Bush Adminstration to get into the business of extraordinary rendition and government permitted torture…. such justification is no excuse… and the Chagos situation just makes it clear how little the UK government cares about those in their colonies… please read Tim Ridley’s latest piece about the latest OECD threat and ask yourself what support we will get from the UK on that matter ?

    Re the lack of UK assistance after Ivan, thanks to the poster for clarification re the British Navy. In general the UK government did very little to help, but yes, Cayman definitely did turn out the offer of assistance from Marines on board the Navy ship moored off Cayman, and yes, it was turned down due to the fear of spooking offshore finance clients…… I know this first hand from sources on both sides.

    To that point though, who was the Cayman Government at that time ?

    Remember, the Governor had declared emergency powers, and even if (as many feel) he delegated that responsibilty to a group of his choosing (and NOT our elected officials, to be clear), the Governor (and by extension the UK government) was responsible for all decisions taken at that time.

    No accountability, no democracy…. what price more independant governance now, people ?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ignorance of the facts

    It is obvious that no-one who commented on this article read the judgment of the House of Lords or knows what was really in issue.  The Chagossians had already received  subtantial agreed compensation for their displacement in previous litigation.

    All the judges criticised the previous conduct of the UK government.  No-one denies that what happened in 1971 was terrible for the few hundred or so Chagossians.  But it is easy to forget that this was the height of the cold war, and the presence of a US air base in the region was considered by the UK to have critical importance for the UK.

    This legal dispute before the Court was really about an attempt to force funding from the UK government to support a new settlement on the islands other than Diego Garcia as no self-sustaining occupation is economically possible.  For several years Chagossians were entitled to apply for a permit to reside on the islands .  There was not a single application to do so, confirming that this was about money, not fundamental rights. 


    • Anonymous says:


      The perspective offered by "Ignorance of the facts" displayed exactly that. The very sad story of the people of the Chaggos Islands has important lessons for the people of the Cayman Islands, lessons which I sincerely hope are being taken on board by those dealing with our Constitutional process.

      The historical facts of the case, which involves the lives of people who are citizens of a British Overseas Territory just like Caymanians, are well summarised in an excellent short online documentary which may be found here:

      I, for one, have read each of the case reports relating to the 40 year heart-wrenching struggle of the people of the Chaggos Islands. I have also read many of the precedents referred to by their Lordships. I have taken note that FCO officials deliberately mislead the UN in relation to the UK’s sellout of the Chaggos Islanders, and how the UK ignored the obligations the UK had undertaken in relation to its colonies in signing the UN Charter, all for a few pieces of silver, or more specifically, a discount on some US made missiles. I have taken note as did Lord Mance at paragraph 138 of the judgment that FCO officials viewed the people of that overseas territory as "extremely unsophisticated", a view undoubted retained by some such officials in relation to Cayman, given the manner of conduct of the now year long ongoing and ridiculously expensive exercise in disruption and de-stabilisation of our institutions and economy which now appears to be underway here in Cayman.  

      I am amazed that "Ignorant of the facts" thinks that £4000 or about US$7000 per person paid to a government, which was not even their own, is somehow substantial compensation in return for being forced out of their homes, banished from their country, and dumped in the slums of a foreign country more than a thousand miles away. Given that many millions of pounds were in effect paid to the UK in exchange for the land taken from these poor people, perhaps that would have been a better measure, if indeed any monetary compensation is adequate for such reprehensible treatment. I am also amazed that “Ignorant of the facts” would accept the veracity of any assertion by any representative of the UK in relation to the Chaggos Islanders desire to return to their homes, or indeed any report generated by or paid for by the FCO in relation to the ability of the Chaggos Islanders to live in their own country.

      It should be kept in mind that the judges rendering their opinions in this weeks’ unfortunate blow to the Chaggos Islanders are not the villains of the piece, however one might disagree with their conclusions. The judges were simply following Orders in Council created by UK politicians to serve their own interests,  other legislation passed in  English and later UK Parliaments to serve UK interests, as well as  legal precedents (including those dating to the period prior to the Act of Union), designed to benefit the English over everyone else. It should also be noted that the House of Lords decision was split with two very distinguished judges recognising that concepts of equity have some role, even in relation to how the UK government ought to treat the “extremely unsophisticated” people in the Overseas Territories. Unfortunately that always was, and still is, a minority view in London.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Having had a brother in the British Navy, I can guarantee assistance was offered to Cayman and turned away by the Cayman Government.

    Fearing that a military presence on the island would scare away future tourism, your government decided to folow the dollar than it’s own people.

    As for a violation of human rights, I wouldn’t go waving the finger.  Especially when the finger wavers are those of a country that arrests people for their sexual orientation, and openly derises the Filipino community.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Scotsman has been following this story for some time…—

    Same newspaper that covered the damage to Cayman by Ivan extensively with a journalist on the ground….and made sure to make the point about how little immediate assistance we got from the UK government.

    Same newspaper that carried interest in the story of Gurkha soldiers not being allowed to retire to the UK after years of service in the British Army… they just one their case, wonder if the UK will appeal that one too ?

    How long will it take before Cayman realises that the UK Government are not exactly flawless in how they treat anyone outside of shouting distance of Whitehall ?


  6. Anonymous says:

    Blatant violation of Human Rights is what this ruling appears to be. I wonder if it has anything to do with race…

    Who knows, perhaps twenty years from now the Chagos will become populated with exclusive resorts catering to the affluent.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow! I hope the US does not need Cayman as a base. It is clear that the UK did not care about the wishes of the islanders from Chagos. Do they really care anymore about Cayman?